Throughout history, scholars have attempted to answer the question as to what is what love is but to no avail. Scholars do not agree on the real definition of love. Despite not knowing is the real definition of love, people “just know” when they are in love. Research on love usually focus on behaviors that couples use in dating and courtship. Courtships and dating have undergone drastic changes throughout history. However, despite the changes in social and economic structures throughout history, love in still one of the strongest forces that influences people’s behaviors.
The meaning of love as currently understood in western society has not been similar in all cultures throughout history. In ancient Greek culture, love between equals was only possible between two men. However, men married women for procreation purposes. The society viewed men having emotional attachment to women as undesirable. Romantic love as portrayed in romantic novels only begun after the 12th Century. Furthermore, the expectation people should love their spouse only came later (Owens, n.d). The contemporary society expects people to love their spouses at all times. Without love, it would be practically impossible for people to live together.
Contemporary research focuses on the psychological and physiological effects of love. Research by anthropologist Helen Fisher showed that love has a significant effect on the brain. MRI images showed romantic love activated pockets of the brain that had a high concentration of receptors for dopamine – the chemical associated with euphoria (Gold, 2011). This is true as love clearly evokes emotions. These emotions ultimately affect the physiology of the individual. When people they love reject individuals, they experience certain emotions, which affect their physiology.
Dating, courtship, and marriage are the main factors that define love. Our grandparents had a very close community. Most couple met in community settings. They undertook their courtship rituals in community settings. Men looked for women who could take care of their homes and children. Most women were housewives with men providing for the family. The society viewed men who could not provide for their parents as inferior. The contemporary has undergone drastic changes from the society where our grandfather lived. Technological advancements have increased the avenues where people may meet. There are several successful relationships, which began due to meeting online. The modern woman strives to achieve their career goals and would do all it takes to achieve these goals. However, this puts greater pressure on families as focus on career goals makes parents spend less time with their children and with each other. In addition, couples can now make many decisions, which their parents and grandparents could not make (Lamanna & Riedmann, 2008). Couples can decide to either have biological children or adopt.